Rebecca Adlington addresses moment with Queen at Buckingham Palace: ‘Why am I here?’

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Rebecca Adlington, 31, has revealed that she was “terrified” about meeting the Queen when setting foot into Buckingham Palace 11 years ago to be awarded an OBE. The Olympic gold medalist admitted to being a “huge royal fan” and explained she felt “nervous” about being in a room with people who appeared to have achieved accolades which were superior to hers.

I’m always terrified

Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca exclusively told “I get really nervous, like I’ve met the Queen a couple of times because we got to go to Buckingham Palace after the Olympics.

 “It’s one of those, I’m always terrified whenever I meet anyone that’s a part of the royal family because I’m a big royal fan. 

“I absolutely love the royals, I think they’re amazing but I always just get so nervous because there’s always so many different rules and everything else,” she added.

Rebecca was 19 when she received the honour following her big win at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 that saw her become Britain’s first Olympic swimming champion since 1988.

The swimming superstar invited her parents to attend the ceremony for support.

She continued: “I can remember going to get my OBE and I took my parents with me, which was amazing because my mum and dad were like, ‘Oh my god we’re at Buckingham Palace’.

“It was just amazing I got to do it with my mum and dad, but everyone there was so much older than me and everyone there had done these incredibly and unbelievably amazing achievements.”

Rebecca was in awe of the many incredible men and women who were also at Buckingham Palace to pick up their accolades, many of whom had worked in front line roles.

The star added: “I met people there that had served their country, or they had changed the shape of the NHS or done amazing things and they had retired and got an OBE…and I was just like, ‘Why am I here?’

“It was just amazing. So it was just a surreal thing. I never expected to get an OBE. “

Rebecca grew up in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where she admitted that not many gain the “opportunity” to compete in the Olympics.

However, in 2013, aged 23, Rebecca decided to retire from swimming after competing in the London 2012 Olympics to focus on family life.

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Nowadays, the gold medalist is enjoying spending quality time with her young daughter Summer.

During the recent lockdown, Rebecca saw an opportunity to begin educating Summer on the benefits of eating a healthy and well-balanced diet.

She turned to Sainsbury’s popular LEGO Collectable Cards that are centred around educating children about the food they eat and where different ingredients come from to spark her daughter’s interest.

Rebecca said: “For me having a daughter and her being five now, it’s been at the forefront of our minds. Being at home, cooking more, trying to be healthy and Sainsbury’s is such a reputable brand. The Lego cards in partnership with Sainsbury’s have been absolutely brilliant.”

“It’s one of those things where as a parent you search far and wide to find stuff that is educational and also really good fun for your kids.

“Especially in lockdown, we were desperate as parents, all scrambling for stuff to do with the kids. I didn’t want my daughter to just sit in front of the TV.

“I wanted to get her out doing educational stuff, especially for Summer, it was really not about homeschooling as she’s only five. So for me, it was really important that she found stuff that was really engaging.”

Rebecca Adlington is working with Sainsbury’s and the LEGO Group to celebrate LEGO® Collectable Cards and Album. Available until 27th October, the cards and album are an educational tool for creative play that introduce children to global cuisine. To find out more information, head to Sainsbury’s.

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